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CINCINNATI -- A federal judge has decided to keep alive a lawsuit seeking to have gay marriage recognized on Ohio death certificates despite a statewide ban on such marriages.

Judge Timothy Black on Friday rejected a request from state attorneys to have a funeral director removed from the lawsuit, a move that essentially would have squelched it.

By permitting the funeral director to remain a plaintiff, Black allows for his future ruling in the lawsuit to apply to potentially every gay couple in Ohio who married in other states.

In his ruling, Black says, in his words, "judges are not to duck legal questions simply because they are difficult or because the initial status quo has changed." He says the matter will be allowed to proceed to trial by year's end.